As a mom from a 2,5 year old boy I always try to buy toys and clothing that are durable, safe and environmentally friendly. It goes without saying that I also try to design crochet toys that have the same ethics. Sadly enough I find that people tend to buy cheap yarn to make baby toys and never consider is they are even babysafe. People just want to be nice and they just don’t know that some yarn isn’t suitable for babies. You’re wondering why some yarn can be dangerous for babies? Keep on reading and find out all about it.
What does babysafe mean ?
If you’re a crocheter (or knitter) of babytoys you need to be aware that your toy has to be safe for the little ones. Small parts, like eyes, beads, embellishments,… can be a choking hazard for children below the age of 3. But it is also important that you choose the right yarn, because believe it or not, some yarn is less suitable to use than other yarns.
Most of us are savvy enough to know that they need to be careful with the usage of small parts, but when we’re starting to talk about chemical components…. pfffieuw… then it starts to get a bit too complicated. At least for me that is.
So let’s learn a bit more about that.
Amigurumi eyes, rattle inserts, crinkle material, … all are made from some kind of plastic.
But what most of us tend to forget, is that acrylic yarn in fact also is some kind of plastic! And some plastics can be hazardous for our health and are even considered a possible cause of cancer or hormonal disorders.
But what is plastic? I found on the internet, that there’s 7 major groups of plastics. Every plastic packaging has a number on it, that indicates the kind of plastic we’re dealing with. If you like to know more, you’ll find some extra links on the bottom of this blog post.
- GREEN = SAFE —> These are safe to use in baby products.
- ORANGE = AVOID THESE —> There’s not enough information on hand about the toxicity of these plastics, so it’s best not to use these just to be safe.
- RED = UNSAFE —> There’s knowledge that these products are toxic and thus unsafe to use. There is also a possible link to hormonal dissorders and cancer. So keep clear from these at all cost for baby products!
- NUMBER 7 = TRY TO AVOID THESE —> Number 7 actually means “all other kinds of plastic”. Apparently a lot of the time it’s PC (Plycarbonate). But eventually when the plastic has the number “7” on it, you can’t know for sure what you’re dealing with. So try to avoid these kinds of plastic as well.
Okay… Now we know all these numbers and names, but what kind of products are made with what kind of plastic?
I am not gonna run over all of them, that would make my blogpost extremely boring. In stead I’m gonna focus on some products that you and I are likely to use to crochet babytoys.
Watch out for ACRYLIC yarn!
One of the chemicals that is used for making acrylic or synthetic yarn is acrylonitrile. If you google this substance, you’ll find that it is quite a dangerous chemical. The fumes are extremely toxic (even deadly), but then you’ll already have to burn your yarn… Also some websites claim that this substance can be a possible cause of cancer. True or not, I think it’s better to be careful when using acrylic yarn.
You don’t want your 2,5 year old baby to put something like that in it’s mouth!
So does this mean that acrylic yarn is dangerous? I don’t think so. It it where so dangerous, it wouldn’t be so widely available, right?
For adults I guess it’s perfectly safe to use acrylic yarn, but for children and babies it might not be the best choice or yarn.
But what is the best choice? In my personal opinion it is always better to choose environmentally friendly yarn or yarn that has an OEKO-TEX label. Also it’s better to pick cotton or natural fibers. These are safe, environmentally friendly and can be recycled.
Crinkle toys are a joy for babies. Making a crochet toy with a little extra in it, like crinkle material or a rattle is so much fun! However finding crinkle material, that also is babysafe is rather difficult. It seems that the craft community hasn’t really discovered this yet…
I had to search for a long time to only find one online shop that sells certified babysafe crinkle material. American Felt and Craft.
All good, but I live in Europe, so that means I’d have to pay around 55% taxes and customs fees on it. What makes it rather expensive very fast. So I went to look for an alternative.
Very soon I discovered that cornflakes are wrapped in a plastic container that is made from a type 2 plastic (HDPE). If you remember the little diagram above, this kind of plastic is safe to use for baby items! An extra advantage is, that HDPE plastic is a little bit heat resistant. Yay! This means you can also wash you’re crinkle toy, when needed. (And we all know that there comes a point that it is very needed…) Just wash it on a delicate cycle and on 30°C and you should be safe.
An extra plus… the sound! It makes such a loud crinkly sound. Exactly what we where looking for, right? So, let’s recycle those cornflakes bags and make some cute crinkle toys. Yay!
You can use pillow stuffing. This is cheaper than most toy stuffing, but not necessarily better.
Little fibers (and I mean realy tiny) of the stuffing can get into the babies mouth. So you want to be sure that these are safe too.
That’s why it is always better to use stuffing that is specially made to stuff toys. I always buy Panda stuffing. I really like the quality of it. Even after you’ve washed it several times, it keeps its form very well. So you don’t have to worry when you need to give your little one’s favorite softie a good wash.
As said before, also check the safety for embellishments, beads, fabrics, …
Small loose parts are better to be avoided for children under the age of 3.
And for fabrics there’s several labels that ensure them to be babysafe. OEKO-TEX is one of them, for example.
Which baby friendly yarns have you discovered and are your favorites to use? Comment below!
Crafty greetings and good luck!